With growing dependence on electronic communication, it would seem that many small businesses would be prepared for the paperless office era. Despite the growing reliance on technology, businesses of all types including shops, firms, manufacturers, and more are not converting to paperless offices in large numbers. Change is hard for some, since the process of going paperless may seem intimidating.
However, there are many benefits to going paperless, such as protecting sensitive data, reducing office waste, and minimizing the need for physical storage space. Going paperless can also save you time if you do it correctly. Below are three technologies that may help put your business on the paperless path.
Digital Billing Processes
Online billing software is a great first step towards a paperless office and offers so many other advantages as well. Once it's set up, it's fast and simple to use. All the client's information is stored in the system or cloud—including their preferred payment methods and information. Think of the space you'll save with this paperless system in not having to print out invoices, reports, and other records.
Physical documents no longer need to be filed and stored, which takes up time and space. With your logo, the system helps establish your brand on all of your invoices and documents. The system will protect the information in a secure environment, which is also a real plus. Many billing processes can be fully or partially automated using the software to save even more time.
If you are trying to go paperless in your office, then iPad receptionist software can benefit your business. There's no need for paper sign-in sheets or logs, since the software takes care of that for you in real time—helping you easily track all visitors, their purposes, and their entry and exit times. It saves time in letting you and your employees know of any new arrivals without someone having to monitor a paper log. You can set alerts and visitor watchlists for security purposes that can include instructions for employees on how to deal with any specific people or situations.
Digital signatures are growing in use and popularity. Providing the highest levels of assurance about the identity of each signer and the document's authenticity, digital signatures make complying with legal matters convenient and secure in addition to saving time and money. You'll no longer have to print an abundance of legal documents or contracts and send them out for signatures through the mail or paid courier services. They can be sent electronically—for free—directly and securely to the parties who need to sign, and then stored securely as well.
Using the three technologies outlined above will help you convert your business to a paperless one. Businesses seeking a more efficient, secure means of handling documentation will appreciate paperless solutions. The potential is there to save time, money, and resources while improving your office processes.
Interested in learning more? Check out a world of new ideas for a better business life.
Women are starting businesses at a record pace — motivated to pursue passions, financial independence and the flexibility that eludes most traditional jobs.
(BPT) - Women are starting businesses at a record pace — motivated to pursue passions, financial independence and the flexibility that eludes most traditional jobs.
In the U.S. alone, women entrepreneurs generate $1.1 million in revenue on average across retail, professional and personal service businesses that have operated for 11 years. This stat comes from Visa’s new ‘State of Female Entrepreneurship’ report, which informed their recently announced program, She’s Next, Empowered by Visa, a global initiative to support and champion women in their efforts to grow their small businesses.
That’s powerful stuff, highlighting the important role women entrepreneurs play in the prosperity and economic development of local communities. The typical entrepreneur is 42 years old and earns nearly $110,000 in household income a year, making a profound difference in building and supporting families in the community.
Clearly, female founders are coming into their own. In fact, the Visa study found that 79 percent of American women entrepreneurs feel more empowered now than they did five years ago.
Still, key challenges exist: 73 percent say funding does not come easily, and nearly 2/3 use their own funds to get started. Assembling a good team, finding the right tools and dealing with competitors are among the biggest challenges keeping women entrepreneurs up at night.
For any entrepreneur, it can feel like there’s never enough time or resources to grow a business. To help other entrepreneurs and based on insights from the ’State of Female Entrepreneurship’ report, Visa polled four areas women entrepreneurs focus on to turbocharge success:
Find mentors: More than two-thirds said they wanted advice from fellow entrepreneurs. Relatable role models and mentors are invaluable when you’re making the leap to starting or building your own business.
Find your feet: Strategy development is critical for women starting up their own company. Assembling a good team was a challenge encountered by 37 percent of women founders. Other challenges include: finding the tools to grow and manage their business (36 percent), competition (36 percent) and growing as quickly as they need to (33 percent). Have a plan and pursue your vision.
Gather capital to invest in your business: Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. Respondents cited profits and revenue growth as the top two priorities for improvement. Thirty-two percent of women would direct additional funding toward newer technology.
Put in overtime: When building a business, time is precious. Given the investment and high stakes that come with the territory, it comes as little surprise that a majority of women entrepreneurs (56 percent) are putting in more work hours than before they started their business.
If you’ve joined the ranks of female entrepreneurs, find support and resources by signing up for the Female Founder Collective, and visit She’s Next, Empowered by Visa where you can download and print a toolkit with tips and advice to help build and sustain your company.
Successful business models tend to hinge on delivering what consumers need, when they need it – a moving target that can be difficult to attain. As your consumers’ wants and needs continue to evolve, consider these ways to refresh your business without overhauling core principles.
A Breath of Fresh Air: 7 ways to refresh your small business
7 ways to refresh your small business
(Family Features) Successful business models tend to hinge on delivering what consumers need, when they need it – a moving target that can be difficult to attain. As your consumers’ wants and needs continue to evolve, consider these ways to refresh your business without overhauling core principles.
Reset short-term goals. Get to the root of the reasons you’re looking to refresh in the first place. Focus on what you’d like to change in the not-so-distant future and how you can accomplish it. Also make sure your short-term goals keep you on track for the long-term goals already established for your business.
Refresh online materials. In today’s digital world, consumers have high expectations. Maybe your website is outdated, can’t keep up with traffic or, worse, is nonexistent. Freshen things up with a redesign or even just slight tweaks to make it easier for customers to navigate. For a simple solution, consider adding a blog section where new content can be posted weekly or monthly to give customers a reason to return and to help build your search engine ranking for specific keywords.
Rethink storefronts. To help consumers make the most of their time, small business owners are partnering with other businesses to include their services under the same roof. For example, The UPS Store has a re-engineered model that exists within other retailers, such as pharmacies, hardware stores or grocery stores, that still provides all the services consumers would find at a traditional store.
“Our store-in-store model offers a smaller footprint store that still provides all of the services people need,” said Chris Adkins, vice president of franchise and business development with The UPS Store. “This is an opportunity for an existing business to set itself apart from the competition and offer added value to customers as a one-stop shop, where customers can conveniently take care of multiple tasks at once.”
With customer convenience also in mind, the model also includes updates in traditional stores to incorporate technology and other contemporary elements, including features like smart lockers, digital signage, print consultation workstations and self-service options available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Replace outdated strategies. If your business has been in operation for a while, there’s a chance your previously successful marketing strategies may be a bit out of touch. Consider your target audience and the ways you’re most likely to reach those consumers. For example, social media is a must to keep up with competition and there are ways you can amp up your strategy in the ever-evolving social space. Whether it’s posting short factoids, long-form information, links to online content or simple images of your products, it can be a productive way to reach your audience.
Reconnect with consumers. If overhauling marketing strategies or diving headfirst into social media seems like a stretch for your small business, start small. Simply reconnecting with loyal customers may be just what’s needed to rejuvenate the buzz surrounding your company. Try holding a contest for the best customer-submitted content to use online, or create a giveaway for a randomly chosen commenter on your latest social posts. These types of online conversations can attract consumers who may have been previously unaware of your goods or services.
Revive printed materials. Business cards, flyers, banners, posters, newsletters and any other type of printed materials may be the first impression potential customers have of your company. Using professional, well-designed printed items to let customers know what you do, like those available through The UPS Store, can convey the correct message to consumers that your products or services can meet their needs. Whether you think slight tweaks to your current materials will suffice or a more drastic redesign is necessary, it can help to ask friends, neighbors and even current clients and customers how they feel about the materials you’re using. Pay attention to layout, headlines, colors, white space and even font choices.
Rebrand your business. It may sound like a lot of work, and it certainly can be, but rebranding your business doesn’t have to mean changing the company name or rethinking product lines. Simply updating logos to appear more modern or rethinking an overused slogan can give your business a fresh vibe. Remember that enhancing the look of something seemingly as small as your logo can make a big difference, especially considering that image is likely the first thing a consumer sees when visiting your social pages or website.
Even companies experiencing success should often weigh the pros and cons of refreshing certain business elements to keep things impactful for current and potential customers. Find more tips and ways to improve your small business at theupsstore.com.
How Retailers Can Put Convenience First
In the race to nab consumers’ attention (and dollars), retailers need to be increasingly creative. Some of the more successful efforts show that retailers must recognize the value shoppers place on convenience. Look for ways to boost convenience for your consumers, such as:
Photos courtesy of Getty ImagesSOURCE:
The UPS Store
Take a look at recent trends and developments in technology. It’s clear that these changes can give entrepreneurs that extra leverage to scale up. Here are three to consider.
(BPT) - Small businesses are far more influential than most people may realize.
That influence is felt well beyond Main Street. Small businesses make up 99.7 percent of all businesses in the U.S., and these firms employ nearly half (48 percent) the workforce, according to the 2018 Small Business Profile compiled by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
In addition, take a look at recent trends and developments in technology. It’s clear that these changes can give entrepreneurs that extra leverage to scale up. Here are three to consider.
Big companies have big opportunities for small firms
Back in the 20th century, a large company would get things done in this very straightforward way. Wherever there was a need, they hired someone directly to perform that task, whether it was a driver or an accountant.
Under today’s leaner models, these big companies are finding it’s much more efficient to partner with other firms to fulfill certain needs. According to Deloitte, 31 percent of IT services have been outsourced, as well as 32 percent of human resources. This increasing acceptance of outsourcing is a huge growth opportunity for small businesses owners.
For example, Amazon recently announced it is actively seeking and helping entrepreneurs who are willing to deliver packages as their contractors. The mega retailer will even go as far as helping with startup costs so long as these smaller firms deliver their packages. Landing a contract with a big corporation is a significant milestone for any company, but starting out with that lucrative contract is sure to let these startups hit the ground running.
Better connections for greater flexibility
When today’s entrepreneur has a new role to fill, they’re not confined to the talent pool in their immediate community. Because we now have the tools and connectivity to work from anywhere, a business owner can expand the search across multiple states!
What’s more, these flexible, work from anywhere options can give business owners the inspiration to do things differently. Having greater collaboration means having access to more options to fit specific needs.
For example, what is the very nature of being a small business owner? It’s dealing with a fluctuating volume of work. Tapping into the talent pool of freelancers to work on these specific, short-term tasks and projects is easier than ever, because for a segment of workers, freelancing is increasingly becoming a way of life. Freelancers currently make up 36 percent of the workforce, according to a study from Upwork. And, if trends maintain, most Americans will be freelancers by 2027.
Thanks to remote options with easy access to talent, small businesses can easily set up temporary or ongoing as-needed work arrangements. When you partner with Dell for your computing needs, you’ll get the expert help and support so you can set up the perfect flexible workspace system.
More automation brings better efficiencies
Without a doubt, new technology works in favor of small businesses and entrepreneurs because they have many tools at their disposal to automate labor intensive processes, be more productive and cut costs. For example, entrepreneurs can use software to process client payments and even set up automated payments, saving hours and costs associated with collecting, processing and reconciling under the traditional paper check payment system. That translates into a more efficient billing department that can spend more time focused on complex issues.
Let Dell equip your small business with the right tech tools, tailor made for your venture and backed with support, so you can focus on running your business.
How businesses access working capital has shifted, as traditional methods haven’t kept pace with the speed of business. Where can entrepreneurs turn for funding? These three alternative options may be worth considering.
(BPT) - How businesses access working capital has shifted, as traditional methods haven’t kept pace with the speed of business.
Growth is one of the biggest indicators of small business success. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), more than 500,000 businesses have between 20 and 99 employees as of 2014. These established businesses are in the upper end of growth but have not yet met the threshold of being a medium business. In fact, 39 percent of growing companies — between three to five years old and seeking more than $100,000 — consider accessibility to capital their greatest concern. It’s during this stage businesses typically are faced with growth challenges.
Where can they turn for funding? These three alternative options may be worth considering.
1. Lines of credit
Lines of credit, provided by online lending platforms like Kabbage, offer established businesses in all industries the flexibility and convenience of accessible capital.
With Kabbage there are no fees to apply for a line of credit or annual costs to access funding. Small businesses don’t pay a thing to see for how much their business can qualify. Kabbage offers access to lines of credit up to $250,000, helping small to mid-market businesses access funding for operational costs and strategic investments like cash flow needs, purchasing specialized equipment, business expansions and launching high-growth marketing projects. There are also no obligations in how much a business is required to take. Businesses can take the amount they need from the line of credit when they need it, with no hidden fees or pre-payment penalties.
Lines of credit are faster and more flexible than traditional loans. In fact, Kabbage offers a loan application that can be finished in minutes — even through a mobile app — eliminating the time usually spent waiting in lines or filling out numerous forms.
2. Merchant cash advances
Some established businesses turn to a merchant cash advance (MCA) due to lower credit ratings, not having enough assets to provide as collateral, short-term financing needs or the flexible repayment terms.
Essentially, an MCA is an advance on future credit card payments. The cash advance is decided upon by the funding company, with the specific amount being paid back in full plus fees and interest.
With merchant cash advances, borrowers pay a set percentage of their credit card sales and make payments every time they receive credit card payments from clients.
3. Invoice factoring
Invoice factoring is another funding option established businesses use in lieu of bank loans. Factoring is the process of selling accounts receivables to a financing company for immediate cash.
Factoring helps businesses receive cash much faster than waiting for clients to pay their invoices. The financing company, known as the “factor,” pays the business the majority of the invoice upfront. Once the business receives payment from the client, they send those funds to the factor. The factor then pays the remaining percentage to the business.
Factors are more concerned with the financial health of the business’s clients rather than the business itself. These companies collect directly from a company’s clients and customers, sometimes requiring payment history validation from the business. A benefit of factoring is not assuming debt for money received; however, if clients are not creditworthy, you may not receive funding.
To maximize this growth, consider looking online at www.kabbage.com/yes to learn about and find new options that fit your business. Merchant cash advances, invoice factoring, and lines of credit are three alternative solutions that help growing businesses go beyond traditional financing methods.
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